attorney for appellant attorneys for appellee
Richard J. Dick Richard A. Young
Samuel L. Jacobs Eric D. Johnson
Indianapolis, Indiana Indianapolis, Indiana
New Prime, Inc.
Prime, Inc. and
Operators of Springfield,
Appellees (Defendants below).
Appeal from the Wayne Superior Court 1, 89D01-9804-CT-14
The Honorable P. Thomas Snow, Judge
On Petition To Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 89A01-0108-CV-304
June 23, 2004
After an accident in eastern Indiana involving residents of multiple states, the ensuing litigation has necessitated deciding certain choice-of-law questions. Because we issued an important decision on choice of law while this case was pending, we remand for further consideration.
Loretta Baca was riding in a truck driven by her husband Christopher Baca
when Christopher collided with another vehicle. The accident occurred on Interstate 70
in Wayne County, Indiana. Loretta sustained injuries in the accident, and Christopher
died. The two had recently married. Christopher was a Colorado resident
at the time of the accident and Loretta was a South Carolina resident,
but she was on her way to Colorado to establish residence.
Christopher was employed by Independent Contractor Operators of Springfield, a Missouri company, and
he had entered into an employment contract with New Prime, Inc. in Missouri.
He was driving in the course of his employment when the accident
occurred. New Prime owned the truck that Christopher was driving.
Loretta brought suit against New Prime, among others, asserting vicarious liability for the
injuries she sustained. She alleged that Christopher had been careless and negligent
while driving the trailer in the scope of his employment. New Prime
asserted as an affirmative defense that Indiana law would support a claim for
injury due to wanton or willful behavior but not due to ordinary negligence.
By cross-motions for summary judgment, Loretta and New Prime joined the issue
of whether Indianas tort law should apply.
The trial court held that Indiana negligence law governed and granted New Prime
summary judgment. Loretta appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals, which affirmed.
See Baca v. New Prime, Inc., 763 N.E.2d 1014 (Ind. Ct. App.
2002). We granted transfer.
While this appeal has been pending, we have decided another choice-of-law case on
certified questions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Simon v. United States, 805 N.E.2d 798 (Ind. 2004). In the course
of doing so, we re-affirmed our leading case on lex loci delecti, Hubbard
Manufacturing Co. v. Greeson, 515 N.E.2d 1071 (Ind. 1987), and indicated that we
had elected not to adopt the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws (1971).
Also significant for purposes of this case, we considered for the first time
whether Indiana choice-of-law doctrine embraces
dépeçage, the process of applying separately the law
of different states within the same case. We declined to adopt dépeçage,
saying we would not separately analyze and apply the law of different jurisdictions
to issues within each claim of a suit. Id. at 802.
This holding in
Simon will not necessarily lead to a different resolution than
the one reached by the trial court and the Court of Appeals in
this case. The plaintiff argued and briefed this case in substantial reliance
on the Restatement (Second), however, and neither party took into account the applicability
or inapplicability of the doctrine of dépeçage. We think it appropriate to
give the parties and those courts a chance to brief and consider the
issues with benefit of our recent decision.
Accordingly, we remand to the trial court for consideration in light of
v. United States.
Dickson, Sullivan, Boehm, and Rucker, JJ., concur.